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Gianluca Pica
 


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BLOG OF A TOUR GUIDE IN ROME

26/03/2020, 12:53

#atourguiderome, #unaguidaturisticaroma, #romeisus, #rome, #roma, #guidedtour, #tour, #aventino, #medioevo, #middleages, #mosaico, #tomba, #santabalbina



CHURCH-OF-SANTA-BALBINA


 A small and unknown church at the Aventine Hill, with several medieval surprises inside...



The Church of Santa Balbina, a Christian martyr of the II century AD, is not known and it is completely off the beaten path. It is set at the #Aventine hill, not so far from the huge remains of the Baths of #Caracalla. From the entrance of this church, looking between the leaves of the Roman pines, you can see some massive ancient walls, that ones of the majestic Roman baths. But now it’s time to speak about the Church of Santa Balbina! The first document where we can read this name is date back to the 595 AD, but probably the first Christian sacred place was erected before, around the end of the V century AD. The only proble of this nice church is its position, because as I told you before it is located at the Palatine Hill. But this natural hill is off the city centre, outside the walls of #Rome. It is the reason why over the centuries it was sacked several times and, of course, it was also rebuilt and restored several times! #Pope Leone III, at the IX century AD, commissioned some restorations, as the Marco Balbo, the powerful brother of the Pope Paul II, who at the 1449 restored the ceiling (and still today there’s an inscription on the wooden ceiling remembering that). But the Church of Santa Bibiana was also restored three, two and one centuries ago! The main age represented here is the #Middleages! First of all the portico, just above the entrane. It is always closed by iron gates, but you should not how in the portico are displayed several pieces: a capital with an inscription dedicated to the Pope Sixtus V, a "tabula lusoria" (a sort of ancient Roman board game carved on the floors or walls), Roman vases or some elements of the medieval church. The entry is through a door located along the right nave. Before to reach the entrance you will be in a small garden where you can see the buildings of the monastery of Santa Margherita, that is related to the church. Standind here you can see a medieval tower with battlements, used in the past to defense this place. But now let’s go inside, where you will be surrounded by a nice and peacefull atmosphere! Several things are remarkable, like the chair, used by the bishops, with its caracteristics colourful medieval decorations. Or the "schola cantorum", marble made, that is the corral that you can see in the middle. All the medieval churches had this architectonical element, that was used to phisically divide the clergy by the believers. Moreover let’s go to the entrance, walking along the left nave: you will find a marble crucified Christ probably made by the school of Masolino da Fiesole, one of the main artists of the XV century. Reaching the entrance you will also find a nice monumental tomb, with a marble sleeping man at the top. It is a tomb fromm the 1303 made by Giovanni da Cosma and dedicated to the Cardinal Stefano de Surdis (this tomb stood in the first St Peter Basilica, because its renaissance restoration). But try also to look down, looking at the white and black ancient Roman mosaics on the floor. They are original from the Roman Age, and they were found at the 20’s of the last century during the excavations of the Roman Forum. Maybe to make more famous the church, maybe to preserve better them, the mosaics were moved here! And now the last surprise, that is related to a legend that we can read on some medieval stories named "Mirabilia". It is the history of a candelabra:"During the ancient times, in front of the church there was acandelabra, made of a burning and inexinguishable stone. The whole candelabra burnt, but it was not shabby by the arcane fire: the air powered its stamina, and next to it there was a statue depicting an archer, ready to fire his arrow. But there was a intimidaating Etruscan inscription that said "If somebody will touch me I will wound". Many centuries went on but one day a stupid touched the fatal arrow and the fire was not alive anymore". So, do you see how many nice things in one place? #unaguidaturisticaroma #atourguiderome #romeisus #rome #roma #medieval #middleages #marble 
04/03/2020, 12:48

#unaguidaturisticaroma, #atourguiderome, #romeisus, #rome, #roma, #giotto, #medioevo, #middleages, #museivaticani, #vaticanmuseums



THE-STEFANESCHI-TRIPTYCH
THE-STEFANESCHI-TRIPTYCH


 In the Vatican Museums there are several masterpieces, and some of them are Medieval treasures, like this triptych made by Giotto...



In the Pinacoteca, the painting collection of the Vatican Museums (where you can see works of art made by masters like Caravaggio and Raphael) there is the amazing "Stefaneschi Triptych". This wooden masterpiece was realized by Giotto, the great master of the Italian Medieval style, the man whi changed the art history with his studies, anticipating inventions of the Renaissance age like the perspective and depth. The triptych took its name from a powerful cardinal who lead the Holy Church at the XIV century. It was a dark age for the Pontificate considering how the Pope and a large part of his court were living in France, at Avignon. A hard time for the Romans who, after centuries, for the first time didn’t have their spiritual leader in Rome. This is the reason why, in order to create a better atmosphere and to improve the mood of the Romans, the Stefaneschi cardinal called Giotto, the best master of that time, in order to embellish the St Peter Basilica, the archictonical and religious jewel of Rome. Let’s see the triptych: three wooden panels (a triptych was a common work of art in the Middle Ages because it was related to the Trinity) decorated in both sides. That one that faced the clergy has St Peter sit on a chair, with the keys on his hands (the common attribute for the saint). Close to him there’s the Stefaneschi’s figure, who is kneeing down close to St Peter, in the act of giving the model of the triptych to Peter. This last detail is giving us another important characteristic of the Medieval time: usually the sponsor of a work of art would like to bbe displayed in what he commissioned. And usually this sponsor would like to be depicted in the act of giving the model of his work of art to saints, Jesus or Popes. Just here you can see the beginning of the perspective, that will be improved by the masters of the Renaissance Age. Looking at the steps of the throne, or following the decorations of the floor, your look will be lead behind, giving us a sense of depth. It is just a detail, and it is not so advanced as we will see centuries later, but of course it is the beginning. Michelangelo wouldn’t be able to paint the Sistine Chapel without this detail, without Giotto. All around Peter there are also several angels, with poses and gestures commons for the Middle Ages. But even here there is something new: the figures are more vivid and colourful, the clothes are able to improve the volume of the bodies, making them more realistic. On the other side, that faced the believers, we have Jesus sitting on the throne, having the martyrdoms of the patrons of Rome close to him. On the right there is St Paul, who was beheaded. On the other side St Peter, who was crucified upside down (as he requested, according to the traditions). Usually the two saints are represented all together in Rome. So nothing strange regarding to the choice of the subjects. But even here, looking at Jesus, you can observe the same new artistic and stylistic elements found by Giotto. The Stefaneschi Tryptich is a real masterpiece. A great work of art that is also a direct evidence of the ancient St Peter Basilica, before his reconstruction of the Renaissance Age. Do you see how many aspects could be found in a tryptich? #Roma #romeisus#Rome #atourguiderome #unaguidaturisticaroma #medioevo #middleages 
28/02/2020, 12:29

#unaguidaturisticaroma, #atourguiderome, #romeisus, #rome, #roma, #tempio, #temple, #architettura, #architecture



HADRIAN’S-TEMPLE


 One of the most iconic ancient monuments of Rome are the 11 columns of the Hadrian’s Temple...



Walking in Rome is easy to find memories from the glorious past of Rome, especially related to the Roman Empire. And here there are the original columns of the Hadrian’s Temple! Probably the site construction began when Hadrian was alive, in order to erect a temple dedicating it to his wife, Viba Sabinia (she died at the 136 AC). What is sure is how Hadrian was deified by his successor, Antonio Pio (who ruled from the 138, when Hadrian died, until the 161 AC). Antonino Pio though about Hadrian and his figure. In order to complete the divination process it was automatic the erection of a temple. Don’t forget how Hadrian had good relationships with the "Patres", the Senators of Rome. But it is also true that still today we are debating about his historical figure, his behaviours, his deeds and not only. We know that he was an art lover, he studied a lot and he was also a great general and lover (famous was his relationship with the young Antinoo). Hadrian was many things all together. Implacable with his enemies (keep in mind the war campaign in Jerusalem, when he destroyed again the city), Hadrian had also a great sensibility for his citizens: he travelled years and years, visiting all the Provinces of the Empire, in order to get in touch with the lands ruled by Rome. But coming back to his temple, we must know how it follows the Roman style: today we can see 11 of the 13 columns set along the north side, but we know how the temple stood on a high podium, that could be clearly seen. The sacred building had a rectangular shape and it was flanked by rows of pillars along its long sides and one of the short ones. Inside there was the main room where the statues depicted the emperor stood. Moreover marble reliefs run all around the walls of the temple, just inside. They represented all the Provinces conquered by the Empire, with armors, shields and weapons to underline how Rome is able to defeat the enemies. In this way Hadrian would like to communicate something clear: I’m here to bring peace and stability, even with a war if it is necessary. Not only war, if we think that Hadrian renforced the borders of the Empire (try to go in Scotland where you will see the ruins of the famous Hadrian’s Wall), so much that Rome, comparing other periods, really lived a peacefull time. Over the centuries even this temple, like other Roman monuments, was reused, with all the original reliefs and marble slabs that were melted down or stolen. Also in this way the temple became just a ruin. A common fate, if we think about other Roman buildings that are simply gone... but the Hadrian’s Temple is lucky, because at the XVII century its ruins were included in an architectonical project by Carlo Fontana, a famous architect of that time. At the 1831 the temple became the headquarter of the Vatican Customs and today is a multi purpose building, used especially as a conference hall. It is incredible how long is the history of Rome, a city that is able to display still today its origins. A simple building like this temple is able to evoke several periods... #unaguidaturisticaroma #Adriano #romeisus #Rome #archeologia #archeology #storia #ImperoRomano


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